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Mustang ( Foreign Film Review and Trailer)

MUSTANG poster

 

 

Review by John Delia

One of the best Foreign Language Films in 2015, Mustang now opens in the United States and it’s one of the favorites for a 2016 Academy Award. The film shows the loyalty of sisterhood in Turkey and the trials of being female in a nation steeped with male dominance. Compelling, powerful and sometimes unconceivable, the story delights, excites then becomes heartrending. It tops my list for this year’s Oscar nominations.

School has let out in the small village in Northern Turkey as five orphaned sisters leave for the day walking home along a sea swept road. The boys have already jumped into the water and are beckoning the girls, Lale (Gunes Nezihe Sensoy), Nur (Doga Zeynep Doguslu), Selma (Tugba Sunguroglu), Ece (Elit Iscan), and Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan) to join them. After a few splashes the girls want to war on the shoulders of the boys and everyone is having a wonderful time. But, this is Turkey never the less and in this country young girls do not climb on the shoulders of young boys as it is considered obscene.

Tugba Sunguroglu, Ilayda Akdogan, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Elit Iscan, and Gunes Sensoy in MUSTANG

Tugba Sunguroglu, Ilayda Akdogan, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Elit Iscan, and Gunes Sensoy in MUSTANG

They arrive at their home and the girls are still delirious from the fun they had. Greeted at the door, Grandma (Nihal G. Koldas) tells the girls they must be disciplined and proceeds to do so. When Uncle Erol (Ayberk Pekcan) arrives he’s furious and demands they not leave the house the rest of the summer. He even takes the older girls to a doctor to make sure they have not disturbed their maiden head as this would ban them from marriage in Turkey and cause a scandal.

The film progresses from there as we see each of the girls thinking up ways to get out of the house, Ece and Selma flirting with boys from their window, and Lale getting a truck driver to do her bidding. What starts out to be just five girls “coming of age” turns into a life changing, life threatening, and life ending summer that no one could have predicted.

Tugba Sunguroglu-Doga Zeynep Doguslu-Elit Iscan-Ilayda Akdogan and Gunes Sensoy in MUSTANG

Tugba Sunguroglu-Doga Zeynep Doguslu-Elit Iscan-Ilayda Akdogan and Gunes Sensoy in MUSTANG

The fine acting by the five main stars makes Mustang a standout selection for a chance at an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The girls are delightful, forceful, creative, cunning and adventurous, especially Gunes Nezihe Sensoy as Lale the youngest who instigates most of the efforts to get out of the house that has become a “jail”. She also looks up to her big sisters, two of which are within the age gap for marriage, but it’s something she’s not supporting because it would break up their sister family.

The film had also been nominated for a Golden Globe, but missed the mark to Son of Saul a French entry that involved the Holocaust. Again they face the film in the Oscars and if Mustang wins it will be a close call.

Mustang has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material, sexual content and a rude gesture. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for adolescents. The film plays out in the Turkish language with English Subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A well-acted, directed and written film that grips you from the opening and never let’s go till the credits roll. (A)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Gunes Nezihe Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan, Nihal G. Koldas and Ayberk Pekcan
Directed and Written by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Genre: Drama, Foreign Language Film
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content and a rude gesture
Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.
Release Date: January 15, 2016 (USA)
Distributed by: Cohen Media Group

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